Senior Lecturer Ed Horowicz, Dr June Jones and Amy Williams from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine

England’s only UNESCO Bioethics Unit has been unveiled at Edge Hill University to tackle some of today’s most pressing ethical issues in healthcare.

Rapid advances in medicine, biology, cultural diversity and world changes brings with it many ethical conflicts.

By opening the north west’s very first unit of its kind on the Ormskirk campus, the University intends to “build the foundations of good moral behaviour”, and encourage students, academics and practitioners to operate to the “highest ethical standards”. Dr June Jones, leading the Edge Hill Unit of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and whose career has focussed on the relationship between health care education, ethics and professionalism, said:

“Novel techniques such as stem cell research, genetic testing, and translational medicine will give new powers to improve our health. But more common concerns about the social, cultural, legal and ethical nature of health care have led to some of the most significant debates of our time. Significant changes to the way health care will be delivered in the future raise very real ethical issues, which we all need to engage in.

“Bioethics will help us to do this by encouraging meaningful engagement in ethical dilemmas and debates within the provision of healthcare and professional practice.

“As the unit Chair it is my role to ensure we reflect the principles enshrined in UNESCO’s declaration on bioethics and human rights and spread the message of the importance of bioethics. I also want to ensure that students receive the highest level of educational engagement and have more opportunities to explore the ethical nature of their practice.”

Edge Hill’s multi-disciplinary unit will not only promote the understanding of bioethics in healthcare practice but will enhance and innovate the teaching and research experience for all students and the wider community.

An important aspect is the University’s ongoing commitment to establish relationships with other international UNESCO Bioethics Units, building on and developing new partnerships, as well as encouraging future research collaborations with other interested parties.

The team at the heart of the unit includes colleagues within the University, legal practitioners and clinicians with a range of expertise in bioethics across the UK.

Over the coming months, the unit will be hosting seminars, conferences and will develop themes of research and activity in three key areas: ‘bioethics education’, ‘bioethics in professional practice’ and ‘contemporary bioethics in healthcare delivery’.

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